Freedom fighter who ‘saved’ Gandhi's life in 1944, dies
Veteran freedom fighter and leader Bhiku Daji Bhilare, 98, who is believed to have saved Mahatma Gandhi from an assassination attempt by Nathuram Godse in 1944, passed away early on Wednesday at his native village of Bhilar near Mahabaleshwar.
The 98-year-old Gandhian, popularly known as 'Bhilare Guruji', was cremated at his village, Bhilar, in Mahabaleshwar Teshil in western Maharashtra's Satara district, family sources said.
In 2008, Dhirubhai Mehta, president of the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Mumbai, told Times Of India that "one of the Godse brothers" had tried to attack Gandhi at Panchgani in July 1944 and that the "attempt was thwarted by an alert youth".
This fact has been documented in the memoirs of Gandhi's close associate Pyarelal, said Mehta. It also finds mention in a book written by another Gandhian, Chunilal Vaidya, Mehta had said.
In several interviews, Bhilare had said, "Everyone was allowed to attend Mahatma Gandhi's prayer meetings in Panchgani. That day, his associates Usha Mehta, Pyarelal, Aruna Asaf Ali and others were present for the prayers. Godse rushed up to Gandhiji with a knife saying that he had some questions. I stopped him, twisted his hand and snatched the knife. But Gandhiji let him go."
TOI reports that According to records kept by Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, Godse was overpowered by Bhilare and Manishankar Purohit, proprietor of a lodge.
His cremation was attended by freedom fighters and legislators.
"Always engaged in social and public services, he was twice elected as a legislator from Mahabaleshwar constituency and was a very active figure fighting for rights and benefits of freedom fighters. Though active almost till his last breath, for the past few years, he rarely stepped out of his village," said a close friend and state Congress Vice President Ratnakar Mahajan.